I came across this blog, Church Marketing Sucks, and it is now one of my favorites. I am posting a blog from from this site because I know everybody doesn't follow all the links, and I think it is worth reading. The thing that surprised me, though, were a couple of the comments on this blog that I will share with you after you read it.
How To Achieve 277% Growth(Filed under: Advertising)
by Joshua Cody, Intern
OK, so the title isn't fully accurate. But it is how one church did it. Eastpoint Community Church in Middletown, Del. had an incredibly simple, strategic and successful marketing campaign, detailed by Marketing Sherpa (membership required). Here's a quick summary of their story:
A small, young church, they were looking to reach a community saturated by a younger generation with a general disquietude towards the idea of church. They knew that an unobtrusive web site would bring just the proper message--we don't merely want to tally converts, but we want you to discover us. Thus the brainstorming began. They knew a web site alone would not be enough. How would people find it? So they created a place of interest--a web site, and they created a vehicle for reaching this place--a marketing campaign. Rather than spending countless hours and resources reinventing the wheel and discovering new methods of marketing, they turned to time-honored tactics. Mailers and a billboard (you know how we love to talk about billboards here at CMS).
They created the site, and they put up a billboard. The billboard didn't mention their physical address. It didn't mention their mission statement. It just read "Before you turn church off ... www.eastpoint.org". In addition to the billboard, they sent mailers to their community advertising the web site. The final piece of this puzzle was creating a web site that would matter. They decided to go with a web 2.0 feel and create a prayer wall and blogs. It seems that these efforts created a perfect storm in their community. Church attendance shot up 277% (I believe that must now include most of Deleware's population), and they're looking for a new building.
So now comes the dilemma. When looking at this model, have we found the perfect example for increasing church attendance? Hardly. Blogger Nathan Rice makes a great point that not everything is for everyone. I think we can look at this and the most we can say is, "Wow, they were sensitive to how their community would respond, and they acted accordingly." This campaign won't work for all churches or all communities, but it is a tremendous story of what happens when we remain aware of the world around us and create accordingly. Oh yes, and it's a subtle reminder to those 30% of you who said "Billboards are for truckers" that maybe billboards aren't so bad. (link via Mike Atkinson)
So now for the comments. One guy said, "Well that is great that it worked for them. However, I must say that I think the trick to growth (numbers and spiritual health) is going out into the community (after all, we can't expect people to come to us if we don't first go to them) and authenticity."
Another guy actually said: "Who cares about growth? 'Growth' has nothing to do with it. Love God and love others."
Are you kidding me?! Are these guys living in the 21st century?! Do they really care about the lost? Do they not think Christ is coming back soon, and if we don't get creative and figure out ways to get people in the door, to those people that we do not meet face to face aren't we saying, "You can go to hell, and I don't care because I love God and I loved my neighbor"... and yes we can expect people to come to if we don't first go to them! Can you tell that I am "hot" about this subject? Do any of these people work jobs that use marketing? If so, then why can the world use marketing, but the God who created the world, who did whatever it took to redeem the world, cannot do whatever it takes to get them in the door to hear this gospel?